I asked the independent producer quoted below to elaborate on the eternal trusim that anyone who smacks of any kind of competitiveness or type-A ambition is always threatening to the person above them. She passed along an allegedly true story about a senior production vp who’d just taken over the job of studio president, having arranged to get his previous boss fired. Obviously not wanting the same thing to happen to himself, he had to decide which of the studio’s production vps he could trust and which he couldn’t. Who stays and who goes?
The studio chief decided on a brilliant deciding strategy. As an ostensible gesture of support, he offered all of the studio production vps a new car on the studio’s dime, telling them to choose whatever they’d like. Almost all of them asked for a super-expensive prestige car — BMWs, Mercedes-Benz, etc. But one studio vice-president asked for a VW Cabriolet. The studio chief decided to keep that guy and fire everyone else. He knew that anyone who would choose a Cabriolet is not that ambitious and probably a guy who deep-down sees himself as some kind of second-rater, and would therefore not scheme to get the studio chief fired down the road. He was probably right.